Monday, May 30, 2016

Art Show Preview - For those near and far

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After hours of matting, framing, drilling pilot holes, attaching triangle picture hanger brackets, but not finishing wiring yet (down to the wire :D ), here, at long last as requested, is a preview of my upcoming art show



If you're interested in purchasing any of my paintings, please email me or use the contact form to inquire about prices. Clearer images available upon request.

Off to wire and get ready to hang the show for the day after tomorrow.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sugared Violets - Satur-DIY May 28th, 2016

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White, purple, and speckled sugared violets. 
Sugared violets (also called candied violets) are a decadent and delightful, beautifully simply treat. 

Violets are one of my favorite edible flowers. The process of sugaring them not only preserves them but really brings out the violet flavor of the flowers. If you've ever eaten a violet flower you might be surprised at how much more intense the flavor gets once they've been sugared.


Ingredients and supplies:

Fresh picked violets 
I recommend preparing other ingredients before picking

Egg whites
One egg white gently scrambled will be plenty unless you're going to mass produce sugared violets.

VERY clean paint brush
Even a brand new or food only paintbrush should be washed thoroughly, perhaps repeatedly, with dish soap. You're painting food!

Super fine refined white sugar
  You can either buy the super fine crystalized sugar or pulse regular table sugar in a blender or food processor to reduce the size of the crystals. You don't want powdered, just super fine crystals.

Helpful but not necessary:

Parchment paper
Cooking tray 

Directions:

1.) Carefully brush all surfaces of the flower with egg whites.

The egg white is the clear glue that holds the sugar on the petals.


2.) Sprinkle and evenly coat all egg white surfaces with super fine sugar.


3.) Allow to dry thoroughly.

Once dry they will become a bit crispy and the flavor of the candied violets will really pop.



 Stored in an airtight container, they should keep for ages. Perfect for a summery treat in unexpected moments.

I can still remember a cake, not the party, the event, or even the location, from my childhood decorated with candied violets. I was fascinated and inspired to learn about edible flowers and natural decorations.

We are down to the last few violet blossoms in our meadow, so hopefully you may have a few left here or there to try your hand at this beautiful and tasty treat. Or you can store the idea away until another spring.
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Monday, May 23, 2016

Up To Our Ears In Flowers

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With Daddy away at his final day for the CT National Guard (Hello MA! Here we come!) us ladies went on an impromptu visit to the Bridge of Flowers 


Sometimes, when you find a flower bigger than your head, you just have to stick your nose right in - up to your ears!


And make sure your sister does too.


At home we've discovered, much to our delight, that we have a little meadow hidden behind the shed that is full of violets and dandelylions. Tiny hands bring fistfuls of flowers in each day and the field looks no less full of blossoms.


Sometimes we even pick a handful for our sister.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

May Satur-DIY - Molded Block Crayons

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Crayons break. Crayons wear down, and there are stubs and pieces of broken crayons left.

One use for them is to melt them down and make your own block crayons. 

Block crayons are easier for small hands to hold, last longer, and are much harder to break.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

This Week in the Garden, May 18th, 2016

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With the winds finally dying down yesterday, we spent most of the day outdoors.


Our new Lilly of the Valley patch under the pines.


Allium opening up


Red and chocolate dwarf tulips getting ready to call the bees


New hostas to add to the ones already in front of the house.


Twice as much grass! 


Re-established line between the "yard" and the driveway


So many strawberry blossoms!


And where would we be without a visit to our chicks?

Time to head back outside!
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Postcards from our trip for Joe's Graduation

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Last night we returned home from a four-day trip to Virginia and Washington, DC. 

We spent some time with beloved family that we don't see nearly often enough. I got to attend Joe's graduation for his Masters Degree program at George Washington University. 


Look smart! 

We are so proud to see all his hard work pay off, to see him complete and excel in such a prestigious program, and come out at the top of his class as he rises in his profession. And, as C says, Hooray Daddy!



Now we're off to the tub to wash a little laundry from our trip!
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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bathtub Laundry - WIP Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

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Creating is my passion, my sanity, my sense of being "up to something", my way of contributing a little bit. I always have a few projects going, many left to the side for months or even years before I pick up the best and carry on. Here's some of what I'm working on this week:

What do you do when your washer dies, you have two toddlers (one of whom is sick) and a mountain of dirty clothes? 

Bathtub Laundry. 


Here's how:

1.) Add clothes



2.) Add water, soap, and children.


I decided to use our eco dish soap instead of the laundry detergent as we would have some sensitive skin involved.


Look at the dirt! Must be getting cleaner!

4.) Drain tub, rinse, repeat.


Another helper. We rinsed twice before hand rinsing each item.


5.) Rinse, squeeze, hang.


After these drip dry for a couple hours we will (somehow) get the whole caboodle outside.

Perhaps we should do laundry instead of bathing the children from now on. I think the girls got cleaner.

What are you working on? What are you excited about attempting? What are you proud to be working on? Take a picture or two and share it with the rest of us by leaving your link in the comments.
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Monday, May 9, 2016

What's Working Really Well Right Now - May 9th

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It's been a little while since our last What's Working, so here are five things that are working really well right now:


1.) Belly Cream 
also known as Fermented cod liver oil beauty balm
 After bath, both girls now request "belly cream!"  This soothing, connecting, densely nutritive ritual is now a vital part of our nighttime routine.

Our skin is a living, permeable organ. This lovely, preservative free, way of adding the nutrition of fermented cod liver oil for even the pickiest of eaters, has been a boon to the health of our girls.


2.) Pottying on the go

We starting Elimination Communication with C when she was a couple weeks old. She would pee all over the changing table every time we took her diaper off so, instead on getting peed on, we got a little potty and held her up on it.

Here's C, at four months old, on a potty that is propped between my knees.


With A we started when she was only a few days old.

The biggest challenge at such a young age is figuring out how to hold them securely so that they feel comfortable - which gets a lot easier when they can hold up their own noggins.

C stopped wearing diapers during the day at 18months, A at 19, but that's mostly because I wasn't really paying attention. She could have stopped earlier.

Now we have a potty in the back of the car and offer before and after every leg of a ride. I dare say we have fewer accidents than when they were in diapers!

Because this is widely considered "early" in our country, we've enjoyed "catches" (in a potty or toilet) or "misses" rather than "accidents."

The idea of thinking of "potty training" mainly as the practice of getting the girls comfortable using a potty or toilet instead of a diaper has been so helpful.


On our way into the dmv, with a to-do basket.


3.) Busy bottles and other activities for an upcoming road trip.

We've made Velcro-building-sticks, calm-down-bottles, splurged on some tegu blocks (let me know if you'd like a $20 off coupon), some new (old) books, and snacks. Lots of snacks.


C saw what I was doing and so, rather than putting them together and then away, to save them for the trip, I let the girls assemble their own. And then do it again. And again. :) 


4.) New digs for the chicks!

We've (almost) decided to convert part of an existing shed into a coop rather than build or buy a new structure. $800 for a 4x8 shed seems like awfully expensive eggs (and that's low!). As we will let them roam free a lot of the time we need to worry less about palatial digs. They're so happy with the new space even if the girls are thwarted in their attempts to climb in. At least so far.


But they can go in, with some help. 


Room to roam, to jump-and-flap, and to see (again) who's actually taller, this time.


5.) C's Favorite Poem


In my research on homeschooling, how schooling used to be done, the modern options, etc. I repeatedly come across the concept of children learning language through long form poems, stories etc. Hearing words they might not know, in context, greatly improves their vocabulary, understanding, even memory. 

More than a year ago I started reading poetry to the girls. This has been one of C's favorites from the start. She even recited part of it when my mum asked her if she wanted to go to the brook. And yes, they then collected a pail and a can.


Dandelylions.

You know what's great about dandelylions? Aside from their incredibly nutritious leaves, their sunny cheery blooms, and the fact that just about nobody minds of you pick them? ALL of them?

Blowing the seeds and making wishes.


One of the thing that always make my heart sing is tiny hands, filled with flowers, running toward me with beaming faces and twinkling eyes of their bearer saying "Mama! For you!" 

Few things are better.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Broken Things - Buddhism and things already being broken

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Toddlers break things, grownups break things, the dog breaks things. 


At our house it sometimes appears as though we're all working together to lower the number of our belongings. Not by donating, giving away, or selling them, but by accidentally breaking them.

A girl grabs a broom to get beads out from under the couch (from a necklace she broke while fighting with her sister) and with the other end accidentally hits a pitcher on the counter sundering it in thrain. 

The dog pulls the butter dish off the counter and it smashes on the floor.

Jars, glasses, pitchers, plates, bowls, you name it. Just about every week something drops and shatters.

There's a buddhist concept I came across many years ago that rises up in the regular disasters of being people - the cup is already broken.

The most succinct version I could find is from Mark Epstein's Freud and Buddha

...Before saying a word, [Ajahn Chah] motioned to a glass at his side. “Do you see this glass?” he asked us. “I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.” (emphasis mine)

Some things we can mend, many mended items we can repurpose. 

Many thing we just have to take a breath and let them go.

If we think of things as already broken, we can acknowledge and let go before things break.

Parenting seems to be an exercise in letting go. We are constantly told to enjoy every moment (which is baloney) but perhaps, if we practice letting go, that the cup is already broken, we can be more present, and be the grownups we need to be.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

This Week In The Garden - May 2nd, 2016

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We had an incredibly full and productive week and weekend. 
While it rained we painted the upstairs ceiling, and when it wasn't raining we planted and planned.


Our violets are so happy!

These are ones we brought with us, not knowings we would have violets aplenty here. We can never have too many for my sake. We counted twenty-seven blooms and buds on one!



The bulb garden we put in last fall is giving us constant beauty, the croci well finished, the grape hyacinths in full show, tulips and allium on the way. The heucheras recovering from the move are starting to add their color. 



The new crescent bed holds reds and pinks (with purples working on their blossoms) that just couldn't be left behind at the hardware store (I can stop any time, really...?) 


From the feed store I got purple passion asparagus and finally dug an asparagus bed.

Without true "full sun" this may be daydreaming but, as we're here to stay, what better way to find out than to try!


And finally, the genuine dutch tulip bulbs are starting to show off their painterly colors. And no, C isn't picking all of them as threatened. There are enough violets and dandelylions to satisfy even her penchant for picking.



I let my husband use the coupon I had for the Hadley Garden Center and we came home home with two grape vines, mulch, and composted manure. We got two posts installed before the rain started down in earnest. Another day we will attach cross bars and wires to do a proper grape vine trellis. 


We pulled some glorious huge pieces of bark off a tree felled, cut, and cleared then added them to the roof of C's house. We pulled many many vines out of the trees and added them to the pile of our burgeoning hugelkultur.


And green! We have some grass on our "lawn"! 

The previous owners were very vehicularly-minded. After viewing the place for the first time we really had no idea what the lay of the land was like in front of the house because of the number of vehicles (cars, trucks, boats, trailers, rv, etc. Yes, plural.) It seems like their version of yard work was to add more gravel. 

It's funny to think how these little bursts of grass must have meant something so different to them than to us. 

For me, it's promise of green and growth, it's hope of life.

Here's to plants!